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Rural Machinery & Equipment

in Eastern Poland

Farm equipment can often be extremely primitive by the standards of other Western countries. It is common for farms to own a horse instead of a tractor and work in the fields are reminiscent of England in the 1940's. Horses draw wagons of a design that has only changed by the introduction of the pneumatic tyre. Things are a changing, though. In the winter of 2001 the Polish government came up with a plan to give quantities of free fuel to farmers who had a tractor, to try and encourage farms to modernise. I am not sure it is the best way forward as polish farmers had become accustomed to free hand-outs during the communist regime and it generally resulted in no real improvements except in the ability for corruption to grow. The older I get, then the more convinced I get that education is the key - teach farmers to be better farmers and business managers etc and let them see for themselves how they can help themselves.

A farmer in the village of Trawniki, ready to start ploughing.

Another small farmer in Trawniki. a horse usually has a working life of about 10 to 15 years, generally longest for heavier horses or lightly used ones. The soils are light in the Lubelskie province and a single horse is all that is generally required for ploughing. Whether you use one or 2 horses, you only require one person to control them. The harness is quite light in comparison with horses used for heavier soils or heavy loads. In the past it was common to use oxen, which had a working life of only 3 years, but cost little in food as they could survive on just grass. They were extremely good at pulling but required 2 people to control them. However, unlike horses, the were also meat animals.

A very old style of plough, of a type to be found from the most ancient times all around the world and ussually pulled by oxen. A classic, and this is not a reproduction... However, this type of plough is not to be sneezed at, this was an important step for the human race from a tribal life to civilisation, the extra food that this allowed to be grown made it possible for a significant proportion of the population to be free from food production and instead become artisits, scientists and soldiers.

A relatively efficient horse drawn wheel and mould board plough, of a design dating back possibly to the 14th century in Poland, with modifications (the mould board is the part of the share [the bit that does the ploughing] that guides the share and turns the earth). Although 'wheel and mould board' ploughs such as this were introduced into Poland in the 14th century, the fact that the earlier type of plough remained in service on many farms is indicative of the irresponsible nature of some of the landowners over the centuries. This plough, with its very short mould board and light construction is for very light soils and probably came from a farm on the sandy loess hills of the Lublin Upland.

This is the all metal replacement of the above, with a few extra refinements possible with this 'new' material.


Interestingly enough, this type of plough helped lead to the long and narrow nature of Polish fields. Imagine that you plough one furrow with this plough, from south to north across your field. The plough will have turned the earth over to the east side of the furrow. Ho hum, now you have to turn the plough and horse/ox in a complete circle before you can start to plough again, and as you are now going to head in the opposite direction, north to south, the plough will turn the earth over to the western side of the furrow. If you continue to plough like this then, instead of a evenly ploughed field, you will have a set of ridges and furrows
This is the result of ploughing in alternate directions with a single share plough.
The answer is to plough only in one direction so that the displaced earth from one furrow falls into that of the previous furrow, the first up the side of the field and the return down the centre, or down the next strip field. This also has the benifit of reducing the amount of time wasted turning the plough and team around at the end of each furrow. In Poland, as in most northern European countries, the furrow goes up and down the steepest slope to help water drain off the fields.

All of these horse ploughs are outdated, the turnwrest plough with its 2 shares and depth guide makes ploughing quicker and more accurate, but many farmers continue to use the traditional wheel and mould board plough.

A rotary seed broadcaster, horse drawn.

These spike harrows are still in use today, often pulled by hand. These are designed to be pulled by horses, as you can see by the remaining chain at the top (front). Before, and often instead of steel, wooden spikes were used, tied to a grid like frame. I have not checked, but the fact that these are used indicate that the seed is put in the ground by a seed drill, and not broadcast (thrown) on the land.

A row crop horse hoe, for hoeing weeds out from between lines of seed drill plantred seeds. These are useful when the sown crop is slower growing than weeds, and it has the side benefit of allowing air into the soil. It is still necessary, however, to hoe by hand between the plants, and hand hoeing is still a common sight in Polish fields.

A family working on their field, including the horse, cart and Maluch (Fiat 126)

This piece of equipment is a One Horse Dump Rake.  It was (and still is in many places) used to rake hay into wind-rows by dragging it at right angles to the direction of the mowing, and tripping it to dump the piles of hay at certain intervals.  Dumping the piles at the same point on each pass eventually creates rows, which can then either be picked up loose or baled. (Amy - Small Farmer's Journal)

This is an Ursus tractor, probably the most common make of tractor in Poland. Ursus also made Massey Furguson tractors under licence in the late 1970's and 80's.

This is quite unusual - to have any kind of fitting to deal with the bales as they pop out the back of the baler. This is a husband and wife team, the wife driving, and they were very efficient.

A closer view of a baler.

This appears to be something used for exposing the potato crop.

A straw cutter - but I am not sure why you might want to do this.

Scythe blades, sharpening stones and, on the left, belt containers to hold the stone.

A large wooden hand rake, as used above.

Just visible at the rear of the machine are some heavy flails, this was used to excavate potatoes so that women and children following could pick the potatoes. This is a 1914 product of the Wolski farm machinery factory in Lublin.

Some sort of crop cutting tool, hay, wheat etc. This one looks like it would be pulled by a tractor as it has a short towing beam and only one seat. The operator had a 5 foot long pole that was forked at the end, or a pitchfork, with which he would make sure that the crop did not become jammed and to sweep it into a narrow row for easier collection. Horse drawn ones had a second seat, behind and to the left of this one where the horse driver would sit. These would be pulled by a pair of light horses and were a marked improvement over men with scythes as it was far quicker - particularly important in a country where rain showers are quite frequent.

Once the corn is cut, it is gathered up - first a handful is twisted into a loose rope and an armful laid on top of it. The 'rope' is wrapped around and the 2 ends twisted together and then this piece is tucked into the part forming the 'band'.

This is a horse drawn example, with 'Deering Ideal' written on it.

A highly dangerous looking machine, for cutting wheat, barley etc. Those armsmoved in a clockwise direction, looking down from the top, and swept the crop into the cutters below. Those waving arms only miss the operator by about 10 inches, so you wouldn't want to be thrown by an unexpected 'pot hole' or something.

A grinding machine, with the legs originally off some other farm implement.

This is a stool to sit on with a place to hold the stone when you sharpen either a scythe or sickle.

A large wooden mallet for putting in fence posts and the like, just part of a tree. Eventually it would have broken - and become firewood!

A wooden candle lantern, it is about 12 inches high.

This shows a hand driven machine for separating the wheat from the chaff.

Part of a mills equipment, this mill being powered by an electric motor and dating from early in the 20th century.

A Dutch style windmill, built in 1918 and in use until the mid 70's. This one has been relocated to a village museum

Part of the workings of the above windmill.

Wheat, before grinding.

A small modern water wheel for topping up a small reservoir.

Stationary power for a farm, where horses are hitched up to the arms and a gear arrangement in the middle results in the shaft (almost hidden in the grass on the right) turning and powering various farmyard equipment.

A great scarecrow - it seemed to be keeping everyone of the crops, anyway.

Chalupa (Ha-woopa), a traditional farmhouse and garden. The garden was used to grow vegetables not grown on the farm, plus herbs necessary for health and cooking.

A summer kitchen, an essential piece of a farm otherwise all the cooking in the house during the summer would make it unbearable.

This is a well, with a removable cover. These are very commonas most farmsteads have one. In villages there would be a much larger one, with facilities for washing clothes etc.

A counter-balanced crane well.

Piwnica. Cellars were either separate like this, or under the house. These separate ones were often made with timber, whilst those under the house were often of brick.

Firewood stacked alongside the house.

A barn with a piwnica.

A small farmyard in the Podlasie region.

A small farm, in the rain.

A barn. Thatch is not is so much use these days, most buildings having galvanised steel sheets as a roof.

Traditional farm buildings.

This is a small sawmill, but I assume that the saw is kept elsewhere

Here we have a trough, hewn out of one log and about 5 feet long and 20 inches wide. These would sit on a simple framework, but they have handles so that they can be taken inside during the winter etc.

A feeding trough for chickens, duckes etc.

In this tub is a selection of wash boards. They are a series of carved ripples with a handle at one end. All these here showed much use and some were badly worn. On the left, leaning against the tub, is a much more mordern one of galvanised steel rods.

No, not a Polish mushroom, but a beehive. I have not seen these in use, this one was at the village museum in Lublin. The main 'trunk' is made from the trunk of a tree.

These are bee hives as well, from the Bilgoraj region.

It is a Polish farm sleigh, and they are still in use.

A weir

Basket traps for fish etc.

2 forms of fishing net.

Another type of fishing net.


Rural Lubelskie
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